Jewish greetings

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Le'Shana Tova Tikatevu, greeting card from Montevideo, 1932.

There are several Jewish and Hebrew greetings, farewells, and phrases that are used in Judaism, and in Jewish and Hebrew-speaking communities around the world. Even outside Israel, Hebrew is an important part of Jewish life.[1] Many Jews, even if they don't speak Hebrew fluently, will know several of these greetings (most are Hebrew, some are Yiddish).[1]

Shabbat[edit]

For the Sabbath, there are several greetings that Jews use to greet one another.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Shabbat shalom שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם Peaceful Sabbath [ʃaˈbat ʃaˈlom] Hebrew Used any time on Shabbat, especially at the end of a Shabbat service. Used also preceding Shabbat (in Israel) almost like "have a good weekend."[2]
Gut Shabbes
Good Shabbos
גוּט שַׁבָּת
Good Shabbos
Good Sabbath [ɡʊt ˈʃabəs] Yiddish/English Used any time on Shabbat, especially in general conversation or when greeting people.[2]
Gut Voch
Shavua tov
גוט וואָך
שָׁבוּעַ טוֹב
Good week [ʃaˈvu.a tov] Yiddish/Hebrew Used on Saturday nights (after Havdalah) and even on Sundays "shavua tov" is used to wish someone a good coming week.[2]

Holidays[edit]

For different chagim and Yom Tov there are different expressions used.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Chag sameach חַג שָׂמֵחַ Happy holiday [χaɡ saˈme.aχ] Hebrew Used as a greeting for the holidays, can insert holiday name in the middle; e.g. "chag Chanukah sameach".[2] Also, for Passover, "chag kasher v'same'ach" (חַג כָשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ) meaning wishing a happy and kosher holiday.[2]
Moed tov
Moadim l'simcha
מועד טובֿ
מועדים לשמחה
A good festival period
A happy festival period
[ˈmo.ed tov
mo.aˈdim l.simˈχa]
Hebrew Used as a greeting during the chol ha-moed (intermediate days) of the Passover and Sukkot holidays.
Gut Yontiv
Good Yontiv
גוט יום־טובֿ Good Yom Tov [ɡʊt ˈjɔntɪv] Yiddish/English Used as a greeting for the Yom Tov holidays.[2]
L'shanah tovah לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה To a good year [leʃaˈna toˈva] Hebrew Used as a greeting during Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe, Also used, simply "shanah tovah" (שָׁנָה טוֹבָה), meaning "a good year", or "shana tova u'metukah" (שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה) meaning "a good and sweet year".[2] The phrase is short for "l'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu" (לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִכָּתֵבוּ וְתֵּחָתֵמוּ), meaning "may you be inscribed and sealed (in the Book of Life) for a good year".[3] A shorter version is often used: "ktiva ve chatima tova" (כְּתִיבָה וְחֲתִימָה טוֹבָה), meaning "(have a) good signature (in the Book of Life)" and literally "good inscribing and signing".[3]
Tzom kal צוֹם קַל Easy fast [tsom kal] Hebrew Used to wish someone well for Yom Kippur. The word "happy" is not used because Yom Kippur is meant to be somber holiday, not a happy one.[2]
G'mar Chatima Tovah גמר חתימה טובה May you be inscribed for good [in the Book of Life] [] Hebrew Used to wish someone well for Yom Kippur. Tradition teaches that our fate is written on Rosh Hashanah and is sealed on Yom Kippur.[4]

Greetings and farewells[edit]

There are several greetings and good-byes used in Hebrew to say hello and farewell to someone.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Shalom שָׁלוֹם Hello, goodbye, peace [ʃaˈlom] Hebrew A Hebrew greeting, based on the root for "completeness". Literally meaning "peace", shalom is used for both hello and goodbye.[5] A cognate with the Arabic-language salaam.
Shalom aleichem שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם Peace be upon you [ʃaˈlom ʔaˈlejχem] Hebrew This form of greeting was traditional among the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. The appropriate response is "Aleichem Shalom" (עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם) or "Upon you be peace." (cognate with the Arabic-language "assalamu alaikum" meaning "The peace [of Allah] be upon you.)"

Phrases[edit]

These are Hebrew phrases used in Jewish communities both inside and outside of Israel.[1]

Word Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Mazel tov מַזָּל טוֹב Good luck [maˈzal tov]
[ˈmazəl tɔv]
Hebrew/Yiddish Used to mean congratulations. Used in Hebrew (mazal tov) or Yiddish. Used on to indicate good luck has occurred, ex. birthday, bar mitzvah, a new job, or an engagement.[1] Also shouted out at Jewish weddings when the groom (or both fiances) stomps on a glass. It is also used when someone accidentally breaks a glass or a dish.[1] However, NOT normally used on news of a pregnancy, where it is replaced by "b'sha'ah tovah" ("may it happen at a good time/in the proper time").[6]
B'karov etzlech (f.)
B'karov etzlecha (m.)
בְּקָרוֹב אֶצְלְךָ Soon so shall it be by you [bekaˈʁov ʔetsˈleχ]
[bekaˈʁov ʔetsleˈχa]
Hebrew Used in response to "mazal tov"[1]
B'ezrat HaShem בְּעֶזְרָת הַשֵּׁם With God's help [beʔezˈʁat haˈʃem] Hebrew Used by religious Jews when speaking of the future and wanting God's help (similar to "God willing").[1]
Yishar koach יְשַׁר כֹּחַ You should have strength [jiˈʃaʁ ˈko.aχ] Hebrew Meaning "good for you", "way to go", or "more power to you". Often used in synagogue after someone has received an honour. The proper response is "baruch teheyeh" (m)/brucha teeheyi (f) meaning "you shall be blessed."[1] [7]
Chazak u'varuch חֵזָק וּבָרוךְ Be strong and blessed [χaˈzak uvaˈʁuχ] Hebrew Used in Sephardi synagogues after an honour. The response is "chazak ve'ematz" ("be strong and have courage")
Nu?  ?נו So? [nu] Yiddish A Yiddish interjection used to inquire about how everything went.[1]
Kol ha kavod כֹּל הַכָּבוֹד All of the honour [kol hakaˈvod] Hebrew Used for a job well done.[1]
L'chaim לְחַיִּים To life [leχaˈjim]
[ləˈχajm]
Hebrew/Yiddish Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent of saying "cheers" when doing a toast[1]
Gesundheit געזונטהייט Health [ɡəˈzʊnthɛjt] Yiddish Yiddish (and German) equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes. Also sometimes "tsu gezunt".[2]
Labriut לבריאות Good health [labʁiˈʔut] Hebrew Hebrew equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]